This is the kind of story we love telling: one of risk, dreaming and, of course, art. This is Asia Robinson less than a year out of grad school and already having an artist opening during Art Basel in Miami. It wasn’t long ago that Asia was working a job in the film industry in Los Angeles day dreaming about other passions and what seemed like another life. Some people can only day dream for so long before they wake up and take action. In this case, Asia had to take a plane.
Asia was living in Los Angeles, surrounded by artists and creative people, with a highly artistic and musical family and a USC undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and Photography. What she did not have was a clear idea of how she could not only socialize with artists but also collaborate with them.
“I have always been tentative about being an artist myself because my thinking is very mechanical. A lot of successful artists are usually less formulaic.” But could that mechanical mind of hers serve a purpose in the art industry? She believed it could, but knew it would take more than just potential and aptitude. She quit her job and took a year to immerse herself in the creative culture of Los Angeles (she sites Downtown Art Walk as a particularly great source of monthly inspiration) and spent time having long conversations with creative friends. Separating from the machine of her daily grind opened up everything: her thinking, her perspective and her network. The “Ah-ha!” moment then came in February 2011 whilst she was living in a studio apartment in Koreatown: “I always had a [mental] picture of myself sitting in a white-walled gallery at MY desk. It was always something I thought I would do when I retired. Then I thought, why wait?”
After getting her masters in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, she began working with New York photographer Drew Doggett as both an executive assistant and business consultant. Her experiences working in an environment with an artist where her opinions were heard and ideas utilized inspired her to take the leap and create AsiaPearl Arts in November. “I’m a decision maker now,” Asia says with pride.
The other catalyst to starting her own company came quite suddenly and unexpectedly. While trying to get a consignment with a show room in Miami, she unearthed an opportunity to exhibit an artist during Art Basel Miami, one of the most prestigious art fair weeks in the world. Janus et Cie, an exteriors luxury show room in the heart of Miami’s Design District, wanted to host an artist showing in their space, and when they contacted Asia about the possibilities, she jumped at the chance. However, with few contacts in Miami except a few friends and fellow Sotheby’s alums, she knew it would be a stretch to make it happen. But Asia was accustomed to reaching for things she wanted.
A friend recommended that Asia check out the Bakehouse Art Complex, an artist residency program that houses and supports up to 70 artist studios on its large property that once was a large bakery (and is also a mere 4 minute drive from Janus et Cie). It was on their website that Asia discovered Valeria Yamamoto, an emerging Argentinian sculptor that works in metal and stone, and whose work is inspired by the animal and plant kingdoms mixed with themes of hybridization and public interaction with sculpture. Captivated by the beauty of Valeria’s work, and her studio’s uncannily convenient location, Asia left a message for Valeria (though unsure that the artist would respond to a complete stranger). Valeria called her back the next day, and three weeks later they held a successful exhibit with interior designers, artists and collectors in attendance. In the blink of an eye, Asia had become an art dealer.
With her first artist exhibit now under her belt, AsiaPearl Arts is now open for business, and will provide an online art gallery for young and emerging artists; pop-up art shows around the world and business consulting for artists. Her mechanical thinking has certainly come in handy and the time she took to familiarize herself with the culture of artists, along with her Sotheby’s Institute education, are making her a valuable asset. It was not without a huge amount of risk and a ton of hard work, but it would seem fate smiles on those that take the first steps to create their own sunshine.
Check out Asia online at www.asiapearlarts.com